“Discipline is a Guardrail?”



This article was written by Clay Staires, Tulsa Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker & Founder of Tulsa’s #1 Leadership Program, The Leadership Initiative.

Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.


What is discipline?

Find 5 more verses on the value of gaining personal discipline. (Intro to the Bible Concordance! You should always have access to one.)







Why do you think discipline is so important in a person’s life? In a disciples life?





How would you define Character?




Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

What do you see in the progression?




How do we get to hope? How is character built? When do I persevere?


So we are introduced to one of two important travel companions on our journey to character… SUFFERING!


What connection do you see between discipline and character?






A rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity



Personal qualities that are supported by consistent action


The Progression of Leadership Formation begins with…


Personal Development: discipline and character

Can you live within boundaries and get along with others?

How much of your time is spent frustrated about having to remain within ‘the rules’? What does your bedroom look like? What kind of ‘order’ is in your day? Are you competitive with your friends and others? You may not like the boundaries, but have you learned to stay within them?

With which phrase do you best identify? (Circle one of the following phrases)

“I Change my boundaries to fit my lifestyle” OR “I Change my lifestyle to fit my boundaries”


The inner circle is the original boundary. I made it small, not because it IS small but because it feels small. There is a tendency to want to push the boundaries and see what I can get away with. This is called ‘rejecting discipline’! You may know it better by the misinterpreted term “PERSONAL FREEDOM”!

If I do get away with it, I take it as permission “it’s ok for me to do this”. Then when someone ‘calls’ me on it, I want to get upset with him or her rather than realize it has more to do with me than with them. Have you ever done this?


We continue to expand the boundaries to include ‘whatever I want’. Eventually, I’m so far from the original boundary that it seems impossible, even silly, to return. I right off the ‘boundary’ as irrelevant and therefore not necessary to obey. I move the boundary to fit my lifestyle! Not good!


Now when we are invited back to the center, we don’t see it as a ‘valid’ option because it’s so foreign. “Everyone else is doing it” or “No one really lives like that.”

Now, lets say that the inner circle is God and His ways (proper morals and ethics). By constantly living on the edge of Christian conduct, we gradually widen the circle of acceptable behavior and thinking. We continue to expand the boundaries to include ‘what we want’. Eventually we are so far away from ‘God’ that it seems impossible to return. We have redefined ‘reality’ to mean something totally different than what it was originally.


So where does it stop??????


Do you feel like this is something worth looking into personally? Can you see where the lack of discipline will have a huge effect on how we think?

Would you be willing to make daily, personal decisions that will keep your lifestyle within the boundaries? This is called discipline -rules governing conduct or activity. Would you be willing to maintain discipline in the midst of discomfort? This takes character – personal qualities that are supported by consistent action.


Have you found in your life that being driven by emotion makes it very difficult to be consistent in your actions? When we’re young, we are totally driven by emotion. We express emotion as an infant to communicate to our parents what we need because we don’t know any other way.


However, that needs to change as we grow up and mature. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Have you ever found yourself raising your voice to try to push forward your opinion or agenda? How about using force? Have you ever threatened someone or physically “encouraged” someone to do what you wanted them to do (anyone have a little brother)?


Let’s take a look at the difference between being Character Driven and being Emotion Driven

Becoming Character Driven instead of Emotion Driven


Character Driven Emotion Driven

Do right, then feel good Feel good, then do right

Are commitment driven Are convenience driven

Make principle-based decisions Make popularity based decisions

Allow action to control attitude Allow attitude to control action

Believe it, then see it See it, then believe it

Create momentum Wait for momentum

Ask: “What are my responsibilities Ask: ‘What are my rights’

Continue when problems arise Quit when problems arise

Are steady Are moody

Are leaders Are followers


Can you see how the list on the right is always contingent on outer circumstances being a certain way? And if they aren’t, well, we’re not responsible for our actions. As opposed to the list on the left is mainly determined by what’s going on inside the person – certain ‘something’ that is IN a person that causes them to do what they do.


Talent is a gift. Good character is NOT. It’s not something we NATURALLY have. We have to build it, piece by piece! One situation at a time! Character is formed through your decisions!


Developing character depends not merely on how well you do things you enjoy, but how conscientiously you perform those duties you don’t.


Clay Staires